Carbonix’s Volanti Drone Is Transforming Infrastructure Inspections in Southern Australia and Beyond

Sydney-based Carbonix, founded in 2011,  has pioneered the development of a large fixed-wing drone that is fast making its mark on commercial UAV aerial surveillance operations worldwide.

The drone, known as the Volanti, figured prominently in Carbonix’s farm mapping and data collection operations in partnership with Aerial Vantage in Michigan last year.  The year-long operations, conducted as part of a remote sensing project sponsored by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), were intended to enhance water and nutrient management and crop yield forecasting for the state’s agricultural producers.  Michigan farmers face growing threats from droughts as well as stiff competition from high-yield producers in China and India where “precision” drone operations – which are intended to better target the use of seeds, fertilizers and pesticides to areas of a farm most in need – are considerably more advanced.  With Volanti drones, farmers in the American heartland can make more accurate soil fertility and plant stress assessments, boost their yields and give competitors abroad a real run for their money.

This year, the Volanti drone will feature prominently in a partnership with SA Power Networks to conduct unprecedented BVLOS electric grid inspections in southern Australia.  Drone-based inspections have been shown to be faster, safer and more cost-effective than traditional infrastructure inspections using ground-based surveyors and cranes.  Volanti drones can also conduct more regular periodic inspections, which means splaying power lines and bushfire risks can be identified far more quickly.  And now, with BVLOS authority, the drones can also fly over long-distances without the need for time-consuming interruptions, speeding the inspection process and reducing operational costs by up to 80%, according to recent estimates.

Carbonix officials say the enhanced inspections will be especially critical in remote difficult-to-access areas of South Australia, where electricity operations are often prone to outages and other problems.  Nearly a third of SA Power Networks customers reside in these problem-prone areas.  Thanks to Volanti drones, customers can expect better service, boosting the company’s reputation and ROI.

Carobinix’s Volanti 3e drone is the company’s most advanced aircraft to date, with a wingspan of nearly 12 feet and a payload of 2.2 pounds that can accommodate various attachments, including multispectral cameras for 3D photogrammetry and sensor-based data systems.  The drone can fly for 2 hours which allows for continuous aerial mapping of vast farm lands and lengthy electric power lines.  It can easily be adapted to other inspection needs – for mines and oil and gas pipelines, for example.  It’s considered one of the most sophisticated UAV aerial surveillance systems currently on the market.

Carbonix’s US and Australian operations are only the beginning for this fast-rising company.  It’s also forging a new partnership with Sydney-based SkyPorts International, which operates across Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.  SkyPorts  is embedding its own drone pilots into Volanti BVLOS flights, initially for mining inspections. By integrating their capabilities, the two companies can scale their combined operations across the entire energy sector, giving Carbonix even greater worldwide exposure.

“We’re really excited to be partnering with an experienced and trusted global operator,” says Carbonix CEO, Philip van der Burg. “SkyPorts Drone Services fills a gap with their scalable end-to-end operational experience in flying fixed-wing VTOL UAVs. We look forward to having their pilots enhance our BVLOS capabilities and forging a lasting partnership that sees both companies exchange knowledge and expertise.”

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